Archdiocese Sued in Alleged Rape by Priest
By Art Golab
May 4, 2002
The Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese three years ago knew of complaints that a Chicago priest was making unwanted sexual advances to women before he allegedly raped a Polish immigrant, according to documents filed this week in a civil lawsuit.
Though a DNA test proved the Rev. Walter Strus was the father of the 33-year-old Polish woman's child, Strus claimed the relationship was consensual, and he has not been charged with a crime.
Last week, a judge dismissed part of the woman's suit against the archdiocese, saying the complaint failed to prove that Strus' superiors knew what he was doing.
But new papers filed Thursday now claim that before the alleged rape, parishioners complained of "unwanted sexual advances and/or sexual contact by Strus" when he was working at St. Fabian parish in Bridgeview.
Later, Strus was transferred to Five Holy Martyrs parish, where the suit claims the rape took place.
"I think there was enough information in their hands that they should have realized they had a rogue priest and that this act was foreseeable," said attorney John Winters, who is suing the archdiocese on behalf of the alleged victim.
The new documents mention no specifics about the alleged unwanted advances by Strus, but Winters said he is ready to produce witnesses if there is a trial.
Strus' attorney, Patricia Bobb, said Winters still has to prove people made complaints to the archdiocese about Strus. "To our knowledge, no such complaints were made," she said. Archdiocesan spokesman James Dwyer would only say: "We have repeatedly said we had no indication of his propensity for sexual assault, and that continues to be our stance."
The new filing also alleges the archdiocese should have known of reports that Strus had had sex with minors in Poland, a claim Strus' attorney said was "absolutely untrue." She added that another charge in the suit--that Strus was kicked out of a Polish seminary before being ordained here--was "an outright fabrication."
Bobb also denied earlier charges that Strus urged the Polish immigrant he impregnated to get an abortion. "He acknowledged that the child is his, and he told her he would support her in whatever she wanted to do," Bobb said.
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